UTB Partners with Harlingen on La Placita Redevelopment

In addition to the restoration of the Grande Theatre project by the Alliance for Hispanic Arts & Culture, the city of Harlingen is currently working to redevelop Gutierrez Park, the two-acre park at the heart of the La Placita District.

The area, which has long been plagued with derelict buildings, drunks and prostitutes, is getting cleaned up and revamped in hopes of becoming the city’s cultural center. Often overlooked by the Harrison Ave. passersby, Gutierrez Park is the closest thing to a Harlingen town square.

The city has partnered with UTB’s Pre-Architecture program, where students have been working on various designs to renovate the park, all inspired by parks around the world.

“While several designs resembled traditional Mexican plazas with central bandstands others featured jogging trails, art space, natural plantings, and a walk-through splash pad. Each model incorporated restrooms and honored veterans. In the coming months, the Revitalization Task Force and other partners will use the models to formulate long-range plans for Gutierrez Park.”

Partnering with the university is very affordable for the city, not to mention a great way to give students experience, not only in designing, but surveying, model-building and dealing with real-world situations.

As I have mentioned in a previous post, AfHAC is attempting to increase public support of the cultural arts and transform the La Placita area into a cultural arts district.

More than anything, these projects need the support of the public.

Source: UTB, Dec. 2009; Main Street Matters, March 2010

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2 Comments

Filed under La Placita District

2 responses to “UTB Partners with Harlingen on La Placita Redevelopment

  1. Robert Serna

    Yet another project I’m wondering the status of. I know the city of Harlingen has partnered with UTB’s Pre-Architecture program in the past . Same concept. The Valley Morning Star covered it at least once or twice before.

    I’m also wondering if this whole Gutierrez Park redevelopment is just an academic project for students and nothing more, or if the city is really looking to do something with Gutierrez Park, or if the city is going to let the ideas rot away on a shelf like so many studies and projects past.

    • Mike E. Perez

      I agree… This is my biggest concern. I’m afraid that the school project ended with the semester, and that’s all we’ll ever hear from it.

      But from the articles I’ve read, and the way it sounded in Boswell’s speech (I believe it was also an agenda item at one of the city commissions, but I can’t recall for sure), it seems that this is a bona fide city project. The students also built a scale model of the downtown district for use by the Harlingen Main Street Program, as well as a third project to redevelop the old HEB building on Jackson.

      As far as I know, the city is planning on following through with these construction of these projects. But I’m not sure when, or with what money.

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